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DNA Test to connect CORNISH family trees

Dear Members of the Cornish Clan,

As part of the ongoing research into the Cornish family name, a DNA study is being carried out to help support (or disprove) the current paper genealogies and to help connect with others of the same surname world-wide.

Only DNA from the Y-chromosome will be tested and as such, only males who are directly descended (or suspected) from the Cornish family name are eligible. This also includes spelling variants of the surname. If you are a female researcher, you can participate indirectly if you have a brother, father, paternal uncle, or male cousin with the Cornish surname who is willing to submit a DNA sample. Others may also be able to participate by sharing the cost of the Cornish surname DNA testing. Because we are acting as a Surname Project, we will benefit from a single point of contact with the testing company, be able to easily share results and allow DNA Heritage to provide interpretation of our combined results.

If you want to learn more about Y-chromosomes and genealogy, the testing laboratory has an illustrated tutorial at www.dnaheritage.com/tutorial1.asp, which has been written especially for non-scientists. The details of the Project can also be found at

The testing laboratory provides a small sampling kit for each participant. This contains three small swabs, which are rubbed on the inside of the cheek and then placed in an envelope for their return. This is quick, easy and totally pain-free and enables the DNA to be safely transported back to the laboratory via the postal service. Each participant receives their own ‘customer code’ and each sample kit is coded so that, by logging onto the secure web-page set up for each Surname Project, participants can check the progress of their sample.

DNA Heritage carry out testing on 43 Y-chromosome STR markers as standard for each person even if less markers are ordered and paid for. If extra markers are wanted at a later date, the results can be received instantly because they have already been tested upon. The minimum number that must be ordered is 23 markers. This is a high-resolution test as it has been found that low-resolution tests (i.e. that use 10-12 markers) can often only exclude a link between two people and provide false positives. Also, the DNA markers tested are only in the ‘junk’ region of DNA and do not contain medical information. The test will not identify you as an individual as you will likely share the same results with many other individuals. This is in contrast to police forensic profiling. It is therefore necessary to compare your results with others that have the same surname, as the probability of a match of both surname and Y-chromosome results are very low.

When two people with similar surnames match on all 20+ markers, a connection to a recent common paternal ancestor can be confirmed. Less exact matches indicate more distant connections or may exclude a connection altogether. The 43-marker test is the highest commercially available and provides the highest confidence in the results. It is also the most universal test allowing comparison between other labs as it overlaps many markers in use elsewhere - thus giving a wider selection of people to compare with.

Often, surname studies reveal separate and distinct groups of males, which demonstrate that they do not share the same ancestor. This happens most frequently with variant surnames. Whilst this may be unexpected, this can be extremely helpful (and cost effective) when deciding avenues of further research.

The price for each marker at the Cornish Surname Project study is only $5.99 each. A minimum of 23 markers has to be chosen from their total panel. If ordered in full, the entire panel of 43 markers is only $189 - a considerable saving. I have chosen the most appropriate markers for our Project.

What happens next?

If you would like to participate in this on-going project, reply to me, the Surname Project Administrator, and I will redirect you to the Cornish Surname Project ‘join’ page on DNA Heritage’s website. The testing laboratory will then send a testing kit direct to you. You then will need to take samples of your DNA, read and sign the Consent Form, and send the samples back to the testing laboratory. Only when the samples are received will the testing laboratory invoice for the test. The results should be ready within 3 and a half weeks.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions concerning the Cornish Surname Project. If you would like to help with the project in any way, please let me know.

Yours faithfully,

Roger Cornish  - Surname Project Administrator

1 Maple Close
PL19 9LL
United Kingdom
Phone: 01822 614613
Fax: 01822614613

DNA Heritage uses a laboratory with ISO17025 and AABB accreditation. The laboratory only uses fully-validated testing protocols and marker ladders and has a proven track record in testing thousands of Y-chromosomes. All markers have been published and deemed suitable for population studies and are reported in line with NIST nomenclature. Full marker calibration and duplicate testing ensure consistently accurate results.